Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Little Lucca

Lucca's Piazza dell'Anfiteatro is built upon the ruins of a Roman amphitheater.

This is our second trip to Lucca.  We were here a few years ago for a couple of days and have fond memories of it being a town that was easy to explore, easy to relax in, easy to take long leisurely walks in, and easy to enjoy.  You'll note we've used the word "easy" several times.  As we move from April to May, Italy is becoming crowded.  Walking around we hear French, Italian, German, Japanese, and many other languages we can't identify.  Italy is a very popular destination and that presents its own set of challenges in addition to those of mere travel.  Now, instead of just figuring out how to get from point A to B, we have to do it in throngs of people who are as confused and enthralled as we are!  We're loving it, but returning to Lucca and its easy familiarity is a nice respite.  

Rick Steves says that Lucca has no one monumental sight to attract tourists and he's right. It's more of an immersion into a small and lively Italian town with roots stretching back to Roman times. 

The ramparts are a perfect place for a walk or a bike ride.
One of our favorite activities here is walking the 2.5 mile wall that encircles the city. There are actually remnants of three walls - the first Roman wall, the second medieval wall, and the third Renaissance wall. Each wall replaced the other as the need for ever stronger fortifications grew.  The final, third wall, is a 100 foot wide mound designed to withstand cannonballs.  The Lucchesi devoted one third of their incomes for over 100 years to building these ramparts.  It is said that the best defense in a good offense, well in this case it is true - no one ever tried to attack little Lucca with its great big walls.

There are six "portas" for entrance through the walls into the old city.

Views from the wall include a peek into the grounds of the beautiful Plazzo Pfanner.

There are spectacular buildings in the old city and then
there are those that are awaiting renewal

One of the great things about Lucca is that the vehicle access
in the old town is limited so we can walk around
looking at everything without fear of being run over by a Vespa!

A sampling of the doors we came across in Lucca.
Everything from the lovely entrance to our hotel
to the far less welcoming.

Plazza San Michele and the Church of San Michele 

Notice all of the details on the facade of San Michele.

One of the alters in the church and a painting detail.
We suspect this marble work on the floor marks the cover to a crypt.

While the Church of San Michele dominates the main plazza
the tucked away Church of San Frediano is our favorite.

Close up of the mosiac of Christ and his 12 apostles adorning the facade of San Frediano.
In the sunlight, the golden background glows.

Baptismal font, alter and ceiling details.

Della Robbia ceramic work inside of San Frediano.

We discovered Vini Liquori Vanni on our first trip to Lucca.
It's a tiny shop at ground level, but its cellar area goes on and on and on.

The caves hold everything from the old and dusty
to the expensive collectors bottles.

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